"Dr. Lavendar," said William King, "some time when Goliath is doing his
2.40 on a plank road, don't you want to pull him up at that house on
the Perryville pike where the Grays used to live, and make a call? An
old fellow called Roberts has taken it; he is a—"
"Teach your grandmother," said Dr. Lavendar; "he is an Irvingite. He
comes from Lower Ripple, down on the Ohio, and he has a daughter,
"Oh," said Dr. King, "you know 'em, do you?"
"Know them? Of course I know them! Do you think you are the only man
who tries to enlarge his business? But I was not successful in my
efforts. The old gentleman doesn't go to any church; and the young lady
inclines to the Perryville meeting-house—the parson there is a nice
"She is an attractive young creature," said the doctor, smiling at some
pleasant memory; "the kind of girl a man would like to have for a
daughter. But did you ever know such an old-fashioned little thing!"
"Well, she's like the girls I knew when I was the age of the Perryville
parson, so I suppose you'd call her old-fashioned," Dr. Lavendar said.
"There aren't many such girls nowadays; sweet-tempered and sensible and
with some fun in 'em."
"Why don't you say 'good,' too?" William King inquired.
"Unnecessary," Dr. Lavendar said, scratching Danny's ear; "anybody who
is amiable, sensible, and humorous is good. Can't help it."
"The father is good," William King said, "but he is certainly not
sensible. He's an old donkey, with his TONGUES and his VOICE!"
Dr. Lavendar's face sobered. "No," he said, "he may be an Irvingite,
but he isn't a donkey."
"What on earth is an Irvingite, anyhow?" William asked.
Dr. Lavendar looked at him, pityingly: "William, you are so
ridiculously young! Well, I suppose you can't help it. My boy, about
the time you were born, there was a man in London—some folks called
him a saint, and some folks called him a fool; it's a way folks have
had ever since our Lord came into this world. His name was Irving, and
he started a new sect." (Dr. Lavendar was as open-minded as it is
possible for one of his Church to be, but even he said "sect" when it
came to outsiders.)
"He started this new sect, which believed that the Holy Ghost would
speak again by human lips, just as on the Day of Pentecost. Well,
there was 'speaking' in his congregation; sort of outbursts of
exhortation, you know. Mostly unintelligible. I remember Dr.
Alexander said it was 'gibberish'; he heard some of it when he was in
London. It may have been 'gibberish,' but nobody can doubt Irving's
sincerity in thinking it was the Voice of God. When he couldn't
understand it, he just called it an 'unknown tongue.' Of course he was
considered a heretic. He was put out of his Church. He died soon
after, poor fellow."
"Doesn't Mr. Roberts's everlasting arguing about it tire you out?"
"Oh no," Dr. Lavendar said, cheerfully; "when he talks too long I just
shut my eyes; he never notices it! He's a gentle old soul. When I
answer back—once in a while I really have to speak up for the
Protestant Episcopal Church—I feel as if I had kicked Danny." William
King grinned. Then he got up and, drawing his coat-tails forward,
stood with his back to the jug of lilacs in Dr. Lavendar's fireplace.
"Oh, well, of course it's all bosh," he said, and yawned; "I was on a
case till four o'clock this morning," he apologized.
"William," said Dr. Lavendar, admiringly, "what an advantage you
fellows have over us poor parsons! Everything a medical man doesn't
understand is 'bosh'! Now, we can't classify things as easily as that."
"Well, I don't care," William said, doggedly; "from my point of view—"
"From your point of view," said Dr. Lavendar, "St. Paul was an
epileptic, because he heard a Voice?"
"If you really want to know what I think—"
"I don't," Dr. Lavendar said; "I want you to know what I think. Mr.
Roberts hasn't heard any Voice, yet; he is only listening for it.
William, listening for the Voice of God isn't necessarily a sign of
poor health; and provided a man doesn't set himself up to think he is
the only person his Heavenly Father is willing to speak to, listening
won't do him any harm. As for Henry Roberts, he is a humble old man.
An example to me, William! I am pretty arrogant once in a while. I
have to be, with such men as you in my congregation. No; the real
trouble in that household is that girl of his. It isn't right for a
young thing to live in such an atmosphere."
William agreed sleepily. "Pretty creature. Wish I had a daughter just
like her," he said, and took himself off to make up for a broken
night's rest. But Dr. Lavendar and Danny still sat in front of the
lilac-filled fireplace, and thought of old Henry Roberts listening for
the Voice of God, and of his Philippa. The father and daughter had
lately taken a house on a road that wandered over the hills between
elderberry-bushes and under sycamores, from Old Chester to Perryville.
They were about half-way between the two little towns, and they did not
seem to belong to either. Perryville's small manufacturing bustle
repelled the silent old man whom Dr. Lavendar called an "Irvingite";
and Old Chester's dignity and dull aloofness repelled young Philippa.
The result was that the Robertses and their one woman servant, Hannah,
had been living on the Perryville pike for some months before anybody
in either village was quite aware of their existence. Then one day in
May, Dr. Lavendar's sagging old buggy pulled up at their gate, and the
old minister called over the garden wall to Philippa: "Won't you give
me some of your apple blossoms?"
That was the beginning of Old Chester's knowledge of the Roberts
family. A little later Perryville came to know them, too: the Rev. John
Fenn, pastor of the Perryville Presbyterian Church, got off his big,
raw-boned Kentucky horse at the same little white gate in the brick
wall at which Goliath had stopped, and walked solemnly—not noticing
the apple blossoms—up to the porch. Henry Roberts was sitting there
in the hot twilight, with a curious listening look in his face—a look
of waiting expectation; it was so marked, that the caller involuntarily
glanced over his shoulder to see if any other visitor was approaching;
but there was nothing to be seen in the dusk but the roan nibbling at
the hitching-post. Mr. Fenn said that he had called to inquire whether
Mr. Roberts was a regular attendant at any place of worship. To which
the old man replied gently that every place was a place of worship, and
his own house was the House of God. John Fenn was honestly dismayed at
such sentiments—dismayed, and a little indignant; and yet, somehow,
the self-confidence of the old man daunted him. It made him feel very
young, and there is nothing so daunting to Youth as to feel young.
Therefore he said, venerably, that he hoped Mr. Roberts realized that
it was possible to deceive oneself in such matters. "It is a dangerous
thing to neglect the means of grace," he said.
"Surely it is," said Henry Roberts, meekly; after which there was
nothing for the caller to do but offer the Irvingite a copy of the
American Messenger and take his departure. He was so genuinely
concerned about Mr. Roberts's "danger," that he did not notice Philippa
sitting on a stool at her father's side. But Philippa noticed him.
So, after their kind, did these two shepherds of souls endeavor to
establish a relationship with Henry and Philippa Roberts. And they
were equally successful. Philippa gave her apple blossoms to the old
minister,—and went to Mr. Fenn's church the very next Sunday. Henry
Roberts accepted the tracts with a simple belief in the kindly purpose
of the young minister, and stayed away from both churches. But both
father and daughter were pleased by the clerical attentions:
"I love Dr. Lavendar," Philippa said to her father.
"I am obliged to Mr. Fenn," her father said to Philippa. "The youth,"
he added, "cares for my soul. I am obliged to any one who cares for my
He was, indeed, as Dr. Lavendar said, a man of humble mind; and yet
with his humbleness was a serene certainty of belief as to his soul's
welfare that would have been impossible to John Fenn, who measured
every man's chance of salvation by his own theological yardstick, or
even to Dr. Lavendar, who thought salvation unmeasurable. But then
neither of these two ministers had had Henry Roberts's experience. It
was very far back, that experience; it happened before Philippa was
born; and when they came to live between the two villages Philippa was
twenty-four years old....
It was in the thirties that young Roberts, a tanner in Lower Ripple,
went to England to collect a small bequest left him by a relative. The
sense of distance, the long weeks at sea in a sailing-vessel, the new
country and the new people, all impressed themselves upon a very
sensitive mind, a mind which, even without such emotional preparation,
was ready to respond to any deeply emotional appeal. Then came the
appeal. It was that new gospel of the Tongues, which, in those days,
astounded and thrilled all London from the lips of Edward
Irving—fanatic, saint, and martyr!—the man who, having prayed that
God would speak again in prophecy, would not deny the power of prayer
by refusing to believe that his prayer was answered, even though the
prophecy was unintelligible. And later, when the passionate cadences
of the spirit were in English, and were found to be only trite or
foolish words, repeated and repeated in a wailing chant by some
sincere, hysterical woman, he still believed that a new day of
Pentecost had dawned upon a sinful world! "For," said he, "when I
asked for bread, would God give me a stone?"
Henry Roberts went to hear the great preacher and forgot his haste to
receive his little legacy so that he might hurry back to the tanyard.
Irving's eloquence entranced him, and it alone would have held him
longer than the time he had allowed himself for absence from the
tannery. But it happened that he was present on that Lord's Day when,
with a solemn and dreadful sound, the Tongues first spoke in that dingy
Chapel in Regent Square, and no man who heard that Sound ever forgot
it! The mystical youth from America was shaken to his very soul. He
stayed on in London for nearly a year, immersing himself in those tides
of emotion which swept saner minds than his from the somewhat dry land
of ordinary human experience. That no personal revelation was made to
him, that the searing benediction of the Tongues had not touched his
own awed, uplifted brow, made no difference: he believed!—and prayed
God to help any lingering unbelief that might be holding him back from
deeper knowledges. To the end of his days he was Edward Irving's
follower; and when he went back to America it was as a missionary of
the new sect, that called itself by the sounding title of The Catholic
Apostolic Church. In Lower Ripple he preached to any who would listen
to him the doctrine of the new Pentecost. At first curiosity brought
him hearers; his story of the Voice, dramatic and mysterious, was
listened to in doubting silence; then disapproved of—so hotly
disapproved of that he was sessioned and read out of Church.
But in those days in western Pennsylvania, mere living was too
engrossing a matter for much thought of "tongues" and "voices"; it was
easier, when a man talked of dreams and visions, not to argue with him,
but to say that he was "crazy." So by and by Henry Roberts's heresy
was forgotten and his religion merely smiled at. Certainly it struck
no roots outside his own heart. Even his family did not share his
belief. When he married, as he did when he was nearly fifty, his wife
was impatient with his Faith—indeed, fearful of it, and with
persistent, nagging reasonableness urged his return to the respectable
paths of Presbyterianism. To his pain, when his girl, his Philippa,
grew up she shrank from the emotion of his creed; she and her mother
went to the brick church under the locust-trees of Lower Ripple; and
when her mother died Philippa went there alone, for Henry Roberts, not
being permitted to bear witness in the Church, did so out of it, by
sitting at home on the Sabbath day, in a bare upper chamber, waiting
for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It never came. The Tongues
never spoke. Yet still, while the years passed, he waited,
listening—listening—listening; a kindly, simple old man with mystical
brown eyes, believing meekly in his own unworth to hear again that
Sound from Heaven, as of a rushing, mighty wind, that had filled the
London Chapel, bowing human souls before it as a great wind bows the
It was late in the sixties that Henry Roberts brought this faith and
his Philippa to the stone house on the Perryville pike, where, after
some months had passed, they were discovered by the old and the young
ministers. The two clergymen met once or twice in their calls upon the
new-comer, and each acquired an opinion of the other: John Fenn said to
himself that the old minister was a good man, if he was an
Episcopalian; and Dr. Lavendar said to William King that he hoped there
would be a match between the "theolog" and Philippa.
"The child ought to be married and have a dozen children," he said;
"although Fenn's little sister will do to begin on—she needs mothering
badly enough. Yes, Miss Philly ought to be making smearkase and
apple-butter for that pale and excellent young man. He intimated that I
was a follower of the Scarlet Woman because I wore a surplice."
"Now look here! I draw the line at that sort of talk," the doctor said;
"he can lay down the law to me, all he wants to; but when it comes to
"Oh, well, he's young," Dr. Lavendar soothed him; "you can't expect him
not to know everything at his age."
"He's a squirt," said William. In those days in Old Chester middle age
was apt to sum up its opinion of youth in this expressive word.
"We were all squirts once," said Dr. Lavendar, "and very nice boys we
were, too—at least I was. Yes, I hope the youngster will see what a
sweet creature old Roberts's Philippa is."
She was a sweet creature; but as William King said, she was amusingly
old-fashioned. The Old Chester girl of those days, who seems (to look
back upon her in these days) so medieval, was modern compared to
Philippa! But there was nothing mystical about her; she was just
modest and full of pleasant silences and soft gaieties and simple,
startling truth-telling. At first, when they came to live near
Perryville, she used, when the weather was fine, to walk over the
grassy road, under the brown and white branches of the sycamores, into
Old Chester, to Dr. Lavendar's church. "I like to come to your
church," she told him, "because you don't preach quite such long
sermons as Mr. Fenn does." But when it rained or was very hot she
chose the shorter walk and sat under John Fenn, looking up at his pale,
ascetic face, lighted from within by his young certainties concerning
the old ignorances of people like Dr. Lavendar—life and death and
eternity. Of Dr. Lavendar's one certainty, Love, he was deeply
ignorant, this honest boy, who was so concerned for Philippa's father's
soul! But Philippa did not listen much to his certainties; she coaxed
his little sister into her pew, and sat with the child cuddled up
against her, watching her turn over the leaves of the hymn-book or
trying to braid the fringe of Miss Philly's black silk mantilla into
little pigtails. Sometimes Miss Philly would look up at the careworn
young face in the pulpit and think how holy Mary's brother was, and how
learned—and how shabby; for he had only a housekeeper, Mrs. Semple, to
take care of him and Mary. Not but what he might have had somebody
besides Mrs. Semple! Philippa, for all her innocence, could not help
being aware that he might have had—almost anybody! For others of
Philly's sex watched the rapt face there in the pulpit. When Philippa
thought of that, a slow blush used to creep up to her very temples.
She saw him oftener in the pulpit than out of it, because when he came
to call on her father she was apt not to be present. At first he came
very frequently to see the Irvingite, because he felt it his duty to
"deal" with him; but he made so little impression that he foresaw the
time when it would be necessary to say that Ephraim was joined to his
idols. But though it might be right to "let him alone," he could not
stop calling at Henry Roberts's house; "for," he reminded himself, "the
believing daughter may sanctify the unbelieving father!" He said this
once to Dr. Lavendar, when his roan and old Goliath met in a narrow
lane and paused to let their masters exchange a word or two.
"But do you know what the believing daughter believes?" said Dr.
Lavendar. He wiped his forehead with his red bandanna, for it was a hot
day; then he put his old straw hat very far back on his head and looked
at the young man with a twinkle in his eye, which, considering the
seriousness of their conversation, was discomfiting; but, after all, as
John Fenn reminded himself, Dr. Lavendar was very old, and so might be
forgiven if his mind was lacking in seriousness. As for his question
of what the daughter believed: "I think—I hope," said the young
minister, "that she is sound. She comes to my church quite regularly."
"But she comes to my church quite irregularly," Dr. Lavendar warned
him; and there was another of those disconcerting twinkles.
The boy looked at him with honest, solemn eyes. "I still believe that
she is sound," he said, earnestly.
Dr. Lavendar blew his nose with a flourish of the red bandanna. "Well,
perhaps she is, perhaps she is," he said, gravely. But the reassurance
of that "perhaps" did not make for John Fenn's peace of mind; he could
not help asking himself whether Miss Philippa WAS a "believing
daughter." She did not, he was sure, share her father's heresies, but
perhaps she was indifferent to them? which would be a grievous thing!
And certainly, as the old minister had declared, she did go
"irregularly" to the Episcopal Church. John Fenn wished that he was
sure of Miss Philippa's state of mind; and at last he said to himself
that it was his duty to find out about it, so, with his little sister
beside him, he started on a round of pastoral calls. He found Miss
Philly sitting in the sunshine on the lowest step of the front
porch—and it seemed to Mary that there was a good deal of delay in
getting at the serious business of play; "for brother talks so much,"
she complained. But "brother" went on talking. He told Miss Philippa
that he understood she went sometimes to Old Chester to church?
"Sometimes," she said.
"I do not mean," he said, hesitatingly, "to speak uncharitably, but we
all know that Episcopacy is the handmaid of Papistry."
"Do we?" Philly asked, with grave eyes.
"Yes," said Mr. Fenn. "But even if Dr. Lavendar's teachings are
defective,"—Mary plucked at his sleeve, and sighed loudly; "(no,
Mary!)—even if his teachings are defective, he is a good man according
to his lights; I am sure of that. Still, do you think it well to
attend a place of worship when you cannot follow the pastor's
"I love him. And I don't listen to what he says," she excused herself.
"But you should listen to what ministers say," the shocked young man
protested—"at least to ministers of the right faith. But you should
not go to church because you love ministers."
Philippa's face flamed. "I do not love—most of them."
Mary, leaning against the girl's knee, looked up anxiously into her
face. "Do you love brother?" she said.
They were a pretty pair, the child and the girl, sitting there on the
porch with the sunshine sifting down through the lacy leaves of the two
big locusts on either side of the door. Philippa wore a pink and green
palm-leaf chintz; it had six ruffles around the skirt and was gathered
very full about her slender waist; her lips were red, and her cheeks
and even her neck were delicately flushed; her red-brown hair was
blowing all about her temples; Mary had put an arm around her and was
cuddling against her. Yes, even Mary's brother would have thought the
two young things a pretty sight had there been nothing more serious to
think of. But John Fenn's thoughts were so very serious that even
Mary's question caused him no embarrassment; he merely said, stiffly,
that he would like to see Miss Philippa alone. "You may wait here,
Mary," he told his little sister, who frowned and sighed and went out
to the gate to pull a handful of grass for the roan.
Philippa led her caller to her rarely used parlor, and sat down to
listen in silent pallor to his exhortations. She made no explanations
for not coming to his church regularly; she offered no excuse of filial
tenderness for her indifference to her father's mistaken beliefs; she
looked down at her hands, clasped tightly in her lap, then out of the
window at the big roan biting at the hitching-post or standing very
still to let Mary rub his silky nose. But John Fenn looked only at
Philippa. Of her father's heresies he would not, he said, do more than
remind her that the wiles of the devil against her soul might present
them-selves through her natural affections; but in regard to her
failure to wait upon the means of grace he spoke without mercy, for, he
said, "faithful are the wounds of a friend."
"Are you my friend?" Philly asked, lifting her gray eyes suddenly.
Mr. Fenn was greatly confused; the text-books of the Western Seminary
had not supplied him with the answer to such a question. He explained,
hurriedly, that he was the friend of all who wished for salvation.
"I do not especially wish for it," Philippa said, very low.
For a moment John Fenn was silent with horror. "That one so young
should be so hardened!" he thought; aloud, he bade her remember hell
fire. He spoke with that sad and simple acceptance of the fact with
which, even less than fifty years ago, men humbled themselves before
the mystery which they had themselves created, of divine injustice.
She must know, he said, his voice trembling with sincerity, that those
who slighted the offers of grace were cast into outer darkness?
Philly said, softly, "Maybe."
"'Maybe?' Alas, it is, certainly! Oh, why, WHY do you absent yourself
from the house of God?" he said, holding out entreating hands.
Philippa made no reply. "Let us pray!" said the young man; and they
knelt down side by side in the shadowy parlor. John Fenn lifted his
harsh, melancholy face, gazing upward passionately, while he wrestled
for her salvation; Philly, looking downward, tracing with a trembling
finger the pattern of the beadwork on the ottoman before which she
knelt, listened with an inward shiver of dismay and ecstasy. But when
they rose to their feet she had nothing to say. He, too, was silent.
He went away quite exhausted by his struggle with this impassive,
He hardly spoke to Mary all the way home. "A hardened sinner," he was
thinking. "Poor, lovely creature! So young and so lost!" Under Mary's
incessant chatter, her tugs at the end of the reins, her little bursts
of joy at the sight of a bird or a roadside flower, he was thinking,
with a strange new pain—a pain no other sinner had ever roused in
him—of the girl he had left. He knew that his arguments had not moved
her. "I believe," he thought, the color rising in his face, "that she
dislikes me! She says she loves Dr. Lavendar; yes, she must dislike
me. Is my manner too severe? Perhaps my appearance is unattractive."
He looked down at his coat uneasily.
As for Philly, left to herself, she picked up a bit of sewing, and her
face, at first pale, grew slowly pink. "He only likes sinners," she
thought; "and, oh, I am not a sinner!"
After that on Sabbath mornings Philippa sat with her father, in the
silent upper chamber. At first Henry Roberts,
listening—listening—for the Voice, thought, rapturously, that at the
eleventh hour he was to win a soul—the most precious soul in his
world!—to his faith. But when, after a while, he questioned her, he
saw that this was not so; she stayed away from other churches, but not
because she cared for his church. This troubled him, for the faith he
had outgrown was better than no faith.
"Do you have doubts concerning the soundness of either of the
ministers—the old man or the young man?" he asked her, looking at her
with mild, anxious eyes.
"Oh no, sir," Philly said, smiling.
"Do you dislike them—the young man or the old man?"
"Oh no, father. I love—one of them."
"Then why not go to his church? Either minister can give you the seeds
of salvation; one not less than the other. Why not sit under either
"I don't know," Philippa said, faintly.
And indeed she did not know why she absented herself. She only knew two
things: that the young man seemed to disapprove of the old man; and
when she saw the young man in the pulpit, impersonal and holy, she
suffered. Therefore she would not go to hear either man.
When Dr. Lavendar came to call upon her father, he used to glance at
Philippa sometimes over his spectacles while Henry Roberts was arguing
about prophecies; but he never asked her why she stayed away from
church; instead, he talked to her about John Fenn, and he seemed
pleased when he heard that the young man was doing his duty in making
pastoral calls. "And I—I, unworthy as I was!" Henry Roberts would
say, "I heard the Voice, speaking through a sister's lips; and it said:
Oh, sinner! for what, for what, what can separate, separate, from the
love... Oh, nothing. Oh, nothing. Oh, nothing."
He would stare at Dr. Lavendar with parted lips. "I HEARD IT," he
would say, in a whisper.
And Dr. Lavendar, bending his head gravely, would be silent for a
respectful moment, and then he would look at Philippa. "You are
teaching Fenn's sister to sew?" he would say. "Very nice! Very nice!"
Philly saw a good deal of the sister that summer; the young minister,
recognizing Miss Philippa's fondness for Mary, and remembering a text
as to the leading of a child, took pains to bring the little girl to
Henry Roberts's door once or twice a week; and as August burned away
into September Philippa's pleasure in her was like a soft wind blowing
on the embers of her heart and kindling a flame for which she knew no
name. She thought constantly of Mary, and had many small anxieties
about her—her dress, her manners, her health; she even took the child
into Old Chester one day to get William King to pull a little loose
white tooth. Philly shook very much during the operation and mingled
her tears with Mary's in that empty and bleeding moment that follows
the loss of a tooth. She was so passionately tender with the little
girl that the doctor told Dr. Lavendar that his match-making scheme
seemed likely to prosper—"she's so fond of the sister, you should have
heard her sympathize with the little thing!—that I think she will
smile on the brother," he said.
"I'm afraid the brother hasn't cut his wisdom teeth yet," Dr. Lavendar
said, doubtfully; "if he had, you might pull them, and she could
sympathize with him; then it would all arrange itself. Well, he's a
nice boy, a nice boy;—and he won't know so much when he gets a little
It was on the way home from Dr. King's that Philippa's feeling of
responsibility about Mary brought her a sudden temptation. They were
walking hand in hand along the road. The leaves on the mottled
branches of the sycamores were thinning now, and the sunshine fell warm
upon the two young things, who were still a little shaken from the
frightful experience of tooth-pulling. The doctor had put the small
white tooth in a box and gravely presented it to Mary, and now, as they
walked along, she stopped sometimes to examine it and say, proudly, how
she had "bleeded and bleeded!"
"Will you tell brother the doctor said I behaved better than the circus
lion when his tooth was pulled?"
"Indeed I will, Mary!"
"An' he said he'd rather pull my tooth than a lion's tooth?"
"Of course I'll tell him."
"Miss Philly, shall I dream of my tooth, do you suppose?"
Philippa laughed and said she didn't know.
"I hope I will; it means something nice. I forget what, now."
"Dreams don't mean anything, Mary."
"Oh yes, they do!" the child assured her, skipping along with one arm
round the girl's slender waist. "Mrs. Semple has a dream-book, and she
reads it to me every day, an' she reads me what my dreams mean.
Sometimes I haven't any dreams," Mary admitted, regretfully, "but she
reads all the same. Did you ever dream about a black ox walking on its
back legs? I never did. I don't want to. It means trouble."
"Goosey!" said Miss Philippa.
"If you dream of the moon," Mary went on, happily, "it means you are
going to have a beau who'll love you."
"Little girls mustn't talk about love," Philippa said, gravely; but the
color came suddenly into her face. To dream of the moon means—Why!
but only the night before she had dreamed that she had been walking in
the fields and had seen the moon rise over shocks of corn that stood
against the sky like the plumed heads of Indian warriors! "Such things
are foolish, Mary," Miss Philly said, her cheeks very pink. And while
Mary chattered on about Mrs. Semple's book Philippa was silent,
remembering how yellow the great flat disk of the moon had been in her
dream; how it pushed up from behind the black edge of the world, and
how, suddenly, the misty stubble-field was flooded with its strange
light:—"you are going to have a beau!"
Philippa wished she might see the book, just to know what sort of
things were read to Mary. "It isn't right to read them to the child,"
she thought; "it's a foolish book, Mary," she said, aloud. "I never
saw such a book."
"I'll bring it the next time I come," Mary promised.
"Oh no, no," Philly said, a little breathlessly; "it's a wrong book. I
couldn't read such a book, except—except to tell you how foolish and
wrong it is."
Mary was not concerned with her friend's reasons; but she remembered to
bring the ragged old book with her the very next time her brother
dropped her at Mr. Roberts's gate to spend an hour with Miss Philippa.
There had to be a few formal words between the preacher and the sinner
before Mary had entire possession of her playmate, but when her brother
drove away, promising to call for her later in the afternoon, she
became so engrossed in the important task of picking hollyhock seeds
that she quite forgot the dream-book. The air was hazy with autumn,
and full of the scent of fallen leaves and dew-drenched grass and of
the fresh tan-bark on the garden paths. On the other side of the road
was a corn-field, where the corn stood in great shocks. Philly looked
over at it, and drew a quick breath,—her dream!
"Did you bring that foolish book?" she said.
Mary, slapping her pocket, laughed loudly. "I 'most forgot! Yes,
ma'am; I got it. I'll show what it says about the black ox—"
"No; you needn't," Miss Philly said; "you pick some more seeds for me,
and I'll—just look at it." She touched the stained old book with
shrinking fingertips; the moldering leather cover and the odor of
soiled and thumb-marked leaves offended her. The first page was folded
over, and when she spread it out, the yellowing paper cracked along its
ancient creases; it was a map, with the signs of the Zodiac; in the
middle was a single verse:
Mortal! Wouldst thou scan aright
Dreams and visions of the night?
Wouldst thou future secrets learn
And the fate of dreams discern?
Wouldst thou ope the Curtain dark
And thy future fortune mark?
Try the mystic page, and read
What the vision has decreed.
Philly, holding her red lip between her teeth, turned the pages:
"MONEY. TO DREAM OF FINDING MONEY; MOURNING AND LOSS.
"MONKEY. YOU HAVE SECRET ENEMIES.
"MOON." (Philippa shivered.) "A GOOD OMEN; IT DENOTES COMING JOY.
GREAT SUCCESS IN LOVE."
She shut the book sharply, then opened it again. Such books sometimes
told (so foolishly!) of charms which would bring love. She looked
furtively at Mary; but the child, pulling down a great hollyhock to
pick the fuzzy yellow disks, was not noticing Miss Philly's interest in
the "foolish book." Philippa turned over the pages. Yes; the charms
Instructions for making dumb-cake, to cut which reveals a lover: "ANY
NUMBER OF YOUNG FEMALES SHALL TAKE A HANDFUL OF WHEATEN FLOUR—" That
was no use; there were too many females as it was!
"TO KNOW WHETHER A MAN SHALL HAVE THE WOMAN HE WISHES." Philippa
sighed. Not that. A holy man does not "wish" for a woman.
"A CHARM TO CHARM A MAN'S LOVE." The blood suddenly ran tingling in
Philly's veins. "LET A YOUNG MAID PICK OF ROSEMARY TWO ROOTS; OF
A line had been drawn through this last word, and another word written
above it; but the ink was so faded, the page so woolly and thin with
use, that it was impossible to decipher the correction; perhaps it was
"mother-wort," an herb Philly did not know; or it might be "mandrake"?
It looked as much like one as the other, the writing was so blurred and
dim. "It is best to take what the book says," Philly said, simply;
"besides, I haven't those other things in the garden, and I have
monk's-hood and rosemary—if I should want to do it, just for fun."
"OF MONK'S-HOOD TWO ROOTS, AND OF THE FLOWER OF CORN TEN THREADS; LET
HER SLEEP ON THEM ONE NIGHT. IN THE MORNING, LET HER SET THEM ON HER
HEART AND WALK BACKWARDS TEN STEPS, PRAYING FOR THE LOVE OF HER
BELOVED. LET HER THEN STEEP AND BOIL THESE THINGS IN FOUR GILLS OF
PURE WATER ON WHICH THE MOON HAS SHONE FOR ONE NIGHT. WHEN SHE SHALL
ADD THIS PHILTER TO THE DRINK OF THE ONE WHO LOVES HER NOT, HE SHALL
LOVE THE FEMALE WHO MEETS HIS EYE FIRST AFTER THE DRINKING THEREOF.
THEREFORE LET THE YOUNG MAID BE INDUSTRIOUS TO STAND BEFORE HIM WHEN HE
SHALL DRINK IT."
"There is no harm in it," said Philly.
"Somebody making herb tea and stealing my business?" said William King,
in his kindly voice; he had called to see old Hannah, who had been laid
up for a day or two, and he stopped at the kitchen door to look in.
Henry Roberts, coming from the sitting-room to join him, asked his
"What is this smell of herbs, Philippa? Are you making a drink for
Hannah?" "Oh no, father," Philly said, briefly, her face very pink.
William King sniffed and laughed. "Ah, I see you don't give away your
secrets to a rival," he said; and added, pleasantly, "but don't give
your tea to Hannah without telling me what it is."
Miss Philippa said, dutifully, "Oh no, sir." But she did not tell him
what the "tea" was, and certainly she offered none of it to old Hannah.
All that day there was a shy joyousness about her, with sudden soft
blushes, and once or twice a little half-frightened laugh; there was a
puzzled look, too, in her face, as if she was not quite sure just what
she was going to do, or rather, how she was going to do it. And, of
course, that was the difficulty. How could she "add the philter to the
drink of one who loved her not"?
Yet it came about simply enough. John Fenn had lately felt it borne in
upon him that it was time to make another effort to deal with Henry
Roberts; perhaps, he reasoned, to show concern about the father's soul
might touch the daughter's hardened heart. It was when he reached this
conclusion that he committed the extravagance of buying a new coat. So
it happened that that very afternoon, while the house was still pungent
with the scent of steeping herbs, he came to Henry Roberts's door, and
knocked solemnly, as befitted his errand; (but as he heard her step in
the hall he passed an anxious hand over a lapel of the new coat). Her
father, she said, was not at home; would Mr. Fenn come in and wait for
him? Mr. Fenn said he would. And as he always tried, poor boy! to be
instant in season and out of season, he took the opportunity, while he
waited for her father and she brought him a glass of wine and a piece
of cake, to reprove her again for absence from church. But she was so
meek that he found it hard to inflict those "faithful wounds" which
should prove his friendship for her soul; she sat before him on the
slippery horsehair sofa in the parlor, her hands locked tightly
together in her lap, her eyes downcast, her voice very low and
trembling. She admitted her backslidings: she acknowledged her errors;
but as for coming to church—she shook her head:
"Please, I won't come to church yet."
"You mean you will come, sometime?"
"Behold, NOW is the accepted time!"
"I will come... afterwards."
"After what?" he insisted.
"After—" she said, and paused. Then suddenly lifted bold, guileless
eyes: "After you stop caring for my soul."
John Fenn caught his breath. Something, he did not know what, seemed
to jar him rudely from that pure desire for her salvation; he said,
stumblingly, that he would ALWAYS care for her soul!—"for—for any
one's soul." And was she quite well? His voice broke with tenderness.
She must be careful to avoid the chill of these autumnal afternoons;
"you are pale," he said, passionately—"don't—oh, don't be so pale!"
It occurred to him that if she waited for him "not to care" for her
salvation, she might die in her sins; die before coming to the gate of
heaven, which he was so anxious to open to her!
Philippa did not see his agitation; she was not looking at him. She
only said, softly, "Perhaps you will stay to tea?"
He answered quickly that he would be pleased to do so. In the
simplicity of his saintly egotism it occurred to him that the religious
pleasure of entertaining him might be a means of grace to her. When
she left him in the dusk of the chilly room to go and see to the
supper, he fell into silent prayer for the soul that did not desire his
Henry Roberts, summoned by his daughter to entertain the guest until
supper was ready, found him sitting in the darkness of the parlor; the
old man was full of hospitable apologies for his Philippa's
forgetfulness; "she did not remember the lamp!" he lamented; and making
his way through the twilight of the room, he took off the prism-hung
shade of the tall astral lamp on the center-table, and fumbled for a
match to light the charred and sticky wick; there were very few
occasions in this plain household when it was worth while to light the
best lamp! This was one of them, for in those days the office
dignified the man to a degree that is hardly understood now. But Henry
Roberts's concern was not entirely a matter of social propriety; it was
a desire to propitiate this young man who was living in certain errors
of belief, so that he would be in a friendly attitude of mind and open
to the arguments which were always burning on the lips of Edward
Irving's follower. He did not mean to begin them until they were at
supper; so he and John Fenn sat in silence waiting Philippa's summons
to the dining-room. Neither of them had any small talk; Mr. Roberts
was making sure that he could trust his memory to repeat those wailing
cadences of the Voice, and John Fenn, still shaken by something he
could not understand that had been hidden in what he understood too
well—a sinner's indifference to grace—was trying to get back to his
serene, impersonal arrogance.
As for Philippa, she was frightened at her temerity in having invited
the minister to a Hannahless supper; her flutter of questions as to
"what" and "how" brought the old woman from her bed, in spite of the
girl's half-hearted protests that she "mustn't think of getting up!
Just tell me what to do," she implored, "I can manage. We are going to
"We always have tea," Hannah said, sourly; yet she was not really sour,
for, like William King and Dr. Lavendar, Hannah had discerned
possibilities in the Rev. John Fenn's pastoral visits. "Get your
Sunday-go-to-meeting dress on," she commanded, hunching a shawl over a
rheumatic shoulder and motioning the girl out of the kitchen.
Philippa, remorseful and breathless, ran quickly up to her room to put
on her best frock, smooth her shining hair down in two loops over her
ears, and pin her one adornment, a flat gold brooch, on the bosom of
her dress. She lifted her candle and looked at herself in the black
depths of the little swinging glass on her high bureau, and her face
fell into sudden wistful lines. "Oh, I do not look wicked," she
John Fenn, glancing at her across the supper-table, had some such
thought himself; how strange that one who was so perverted in belief
should not betray perversion in her countenance. "On the contrary, her
face is pleasing," he said, simply. He feared, noticing the brooch,
that she was vain, as well as indifferent to her privileges; he
wondered if she had observed his new coat.
Philippa's vanity did not, at any rate, give her much courage; she
scarcely spoke, except to ask him whether he took cream and sugar in
his tea. When she handed his cup to him, she said, very low, "Will you
taste it, and see if it is right?"
He was so conscious of the tremor of her voice and hand that he made
haste to reassure her, sipping his tea with much politeness of manner;
as he did so, she said, suddenly, and with compelling loudness, "Is
John Fenn, startled, looked at her over the rim of his cup. "Very;
very indeed," he said, quickly. But he instantly drank some water. "It
is, perhaps, a little strong," he said, blinking. Then, having
qualified his politeness for conscience' sake, he drank all the bitter
tea for human kindness' sake—for evidently Miss Philippa had taken
pains to give him what he might like. After that she did not speak,
but her face grew very rosy while she sat in silence listening to her
father and their guest. Henry Roberts forgot to eat, in the passion of
his theological arguments, but as supper proceeded he found his
antagonist less alert than usual; the minister defended his own
doctrines instead of attacking those of his host; he even admitted, a
little listlessly, that if the Power fell upon him, if he himself spoke
in a strange tongue, then perhaps he would believe—"that is, if I
could be sure I was not out of my mind at the time," he qualified,
dully. Philippa took no part in the discussion; it would not have been
thought becoming in her to do so; but indeed, she hardly heard what the
two men were saying. She helped old Hannah carry away the dishes, and
then sat down by the table and drew the lamp near her so that she could
sew; she sat there smiling a little, dimpling even, and looking down at
her seam; she did not notice that John Fenn was being worsted, or that
once he failed altogether to reply, and sat in unprotesting silence
under Henry Roberts's rapt remembrances. A curious blackness had
settled under his eyes, and twice he passed his hand across his lips.
"They are numb," he said, in surprised apology to his host. A moment
later he shivered violently, beads of sweat burst out on his forehead,
and the color swept from his face. He started up, staring wildly about
him; he tried to speak, but his words stumbled into incoherent
babbling. It was all so sudden, his rising, then falling back into his
chair, then slipping sidewise and crumpling up upon the floor, all the
while stammering unmeaning words—that Henry Roberts sat looking at him
in dumb amazement. It was Philippa who cried out and ran forward to
help him, then stopped midway, her hands clutched together at her
throat, her eyes dilating with a horror that seemed to paralyze her so
that she was unable to move to his assistance. The shocked silence of
the moment was broken by Fenn's voice, trailing on and on, in totally
Henry Roberts, staring open-mouthed, suddenly spoke: "The VOICE!" he
said. But Philippa, as though she were breaking some invisible bond
that held her, groaning even with the effort of it, said, in a whisper:
"No. Not that. He is dying. Don't you see? That's what it is. He is
Her father, shocked from his ecstasy, ran to John Fenn's side, trying
to lift him and calling upon him to say what was the matter.
"He is going to die," said Philippa, monotonously.
Henry Roberts, aghast, calling loudly to old Hannah, ran to the kitchen
and brought back a great bowl of hot water. "Drink it!" he said. "Drink
it, I tell ye! I believe you're poisoned!"
And while he and Hannah bent over the unconscious young man, Philippa
seemed to come out of her trance; slowly, with upraised hands, and head
bent upon her breast, she stepped backward, backward, out of the room,
out of the house. On the doorstep, in the darkness, she paused and
listened for several minutes to certain dreadful sounds in the house.
Then, suddenly, a passion of purpose swept the daze of horror away.
"HE SHALL NOT DIE," she said.
She flung her skirt across her arm that her feet might not be hampered,
and fled down the road toward Old Chester. It was very dark. At first
her eyes, still blurred with the lamplight, could not distinguish the
footpath, and she stumbled over the grassy border into the wheel-ruts;
then, feeling the loose dust under her feet, she ran and ran and ran.
The blood began to sing in her ears; once her throat seemed to close so
that she could not breathe, and for a moment she had to walk,—but her
hands, holding up her skirts, trembled with terror at the delay. The
road was very dark under the sycamore-trees; twice she tripped and fell
into the brambles at one side or against a gravelly bank on the other.
But stumbling somehow to her feet, again she ran and ran and ran. The
night was very still; she could hear her breath tearing her throat;
once she felt something hot and salty in her mouth; it was then she had
to stop and walk for a little space—she must walk or fall down! And
she could not fall down, no! no! no! he would die if she fell down!
Once a figure loomed up in the haze, and she caught the glimmer of an
inquisitive eye. "Say," a man's voice said, "where are you bound for?"
There was something in the tone that gave her a stab of fright; for a
minute or two her feet seemed to fly, and she heard a laugh behind her
in the darkness: "What's your hurry?" the voice called after her. And
still she ran. But she was saying to herself that she must STOP; she
must stand still just for a moment. "Oh, just for a minute?" her body
whimperingly entreated; she would not listen to it! She must not
listen, even though her heart burst with the strain. But her body had
its way, and she fell into a walk, although she was not aware of it.
In a gasping whisper she was saying, over and over: "Doctor, hurry;
he'll die; hurry; I killed him." She tried to be silent, but her lips
moved mechanically. "Doctor, hurry; he'll—Oh, I MUSTN'T talk!" she
told herself, "it takes my breath"—but still her lips moved. She began
to run, heavily. "I can't talk—if—I—run—" It was then that she
saw a glimmer of light and knew that she was almost in Old Chester.
Very likely she would have fallen if she had not seen that far-off
window just when she did.
At William King's house she dropped against the door, her fingers still
clinging to the bell. She was past speaking when the doctor lifted her
and carried her into the office. "No; don't try to tell me what it
is," he said; "I'll put Jinny into the buggy, and we'll get back in a
jiffy. I understand; Hannah is worse."
"Your father?" he said, picking up his medicine-case.
"Not father; Mr.—Fenn—"
As the doctor hurried out to the stable to hitch up he bade his wife
put certain remedies into his bag,—"and look after that child," he
called over his shoulder to his efficient Martha. She was so efficient
that when he had brought Jinny and the buggy to the door, Philly was
able to gasp out that Mr. Fenn was sick. "Dying."
"Don't try to talk," he said again, as he helped her into the buggy.
But after a while she was able to tell him, hoarsely:
"I wanted him to love me." William King was silent. "I used a charm.
It was wicked."
"Come, come; not wicked," said the doctor; "a little foolish, perhaps.
A new frock, and a rose in your hair, and a smile at another man, would
be enough of a charm, my dear."
Philippa shook her head. "It was not enough. I wore my best frock, and
I went to Dr. Lavendar's church—"
"Good gracious!" said William King.
"They were not enough. So I used a charm. I made a drink—"
"Ah!" said the doctor, frowning. "What was in the drink, Miss Philly?"
"Perhaps it was not the right herb," she said; "it may have been
'mother-wort'; but the book said 'monk's-hood,' and I—"
William King reached for his whip and cut Jinny across the flanks.
"ACONITE!" he said under his breath, while Jinny leaped forward in
"Will he live?" said Philippa. Dr. King, flecking Jinny again, and
letting his reins hang over the dashboard, could not help putting a
comforting arm around her. "I hope so," he said; "I hope so!" After
all, there was no use telling the child that probably by this time her
lover was either dead or getting better. "It's his own fault," William
King thought, angrily. "Why in thunder didn't he fall in love like a
man, instead of making the child resort to—G'on, Jinny! G'on!" He
still had the whip in his hand when they drew up at the gate.
When Philippa Roberts had fled out into the night for help, her father
and old Hannah were too alarmed to notice her absence. They went
hurrying back and forth with this remedy and that. Again and again
they were ready to give up; once Henry Roberts said, "He is gone!" and
once Hannah began to cry, and said, "Poor lad, poor boy!" Yet each
made one more effort, their shadows looming gigantic against the walls
or stretching across the ceiling, bending and sinking as they knelt
beside the poor young man, who by that time was beyond speech. So the
struggle went on. But little by little life began to gain. John
Fenn's eyes opened. Then he smiled. Then he said something-they could
not hear what.
"Bless the Lord!" said Henry Roberts.
"He's asking for Philly," said old Hannah. By the time the doctor and
Philippa reached the house the shadow of death had lifted.
"It must have been poison," Mr. Roberts told the doctor. "When he gets
over it he will tell us what it was."
"I don't believe he will," said William King; he was holding Fenn's
wrist between his firm fingers, and then he turned up a fluttering
eyelid and looked at the still dulled eye.
Philippa, kneeling on the other side of John Fenn, said loudly: "I
will tell HIM—and perhaps God will forgive me."
The doctor, glancing up at her, said: "No, you won't—anyhow at
present. Take that child up-stairs, Hannah," he commanded, "and put her
to bed. She ran all the way to Old Chester to get me," he explained to
Before he left the house that night he sat for a few minutes at
Philippa's bedside. "My dear little girl," he said, in his kind,
sensible voice, "the best thing to do is to forget it. It was a
foolish thing to do—that charm business; but happily no harm is done.
Now say nothing about it, and never do it again."
Philippa turned her shuddering face away. "Do it again? OH!"
As William King went home he apologized to Jinny for that cut across
her flanks by hanging the reins on the overhead hook, and letting her
plod along at her own pleasure. He was saying to himself that he hoped
he had done right to tell the child to hold her tongue. "It was just
tomfoolery," he argued; "there was no sin about it, so confession
wouldn't do her any good; on the contrary, it would hurt a girl's
self-respect to have a man know she had tried to catch him. But what a
donkey he was not to see.... Oh yes; I'm sure I'm right," said William
King. "I wonder how Dr. Lavendar would look at it?"
Philippa, at any rate, was satisfied with his advice. Perhaps the
story of what she had done might have broken from her pale lips had her
father asked any questions; but Henry Roberts had retreated into
troubled silence. There had been one wonderful moment when he thought
that at last his faith was to be justified and by the unbeliever
himself! and he had cried out, with a passion deferred for more than
thirty years: "The VOICE!" But behold, the voice, babbling and
meaningless, was nothing but sickness. No one could guess what the
shock of that disappointment was. He was not able even to speak of it.
So Philippa was asked no awkward questions, and her self-knowledge
burned deep into her heart.
In the next few days, while the minister was slowly recovering in the
great four-poster in Henry Roberts's guest-room, she listened to
Hannah's speculations as to the cause of his attack, and expressed no
opinion. She was dumb when John Fenn tried to tell her how grateful he
was to her for that terrible run through the darkness for his sake.
"You should not be grateful," she said, at last, in a whisper.
But he was grateful; and, furthermore, he was very happy in those days
of slow recovery. The fact was that that night, when he had been so
near death, he had heard Philippa, in his first dim moments of
returning consciousness, stammering out those distracted words:
"Perhaps God will forgive me." To John Fenn those words meant the
crowning of all his efforts: she had repented!
"Truly," he said, lying very white and feeble on his pillow and looking
into Philly's face when she brought him his gruel, "truly,
"He moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform!"
The "mysterious way" was the befalling of that terrible illness in
Henry Roberts's house, so that Philippa should be impressed by it. "If
my affliction has been blessed to any one else, I am glad to have
suffered it," he said.
Philippa silently put a spoonful of gruel between his lips; he
swallowed it as quickly as he could. "I heard you call upon God for
forgiveness; the Lord is merciful and gracious!"
Philly said, very low, "Yes; oh YES." So John Fenn thanked God and took
his gruel, and thought it was very good. He thought, also, that Miss
Philippa was very good to be so good to him. In those next few days,
before he was strong enough to be moved back to his own house, he
thought more of her goodness and less of her salvation. It was then
that he had his great moment, his revealing moment! All of a sudden,
at the touch of Life, his honest artificiality had dropped from him,
and he knew that he had never before known anything worth knowing! He
knew he was in love. He knew it when he realized that he was not in
the least troubled about her soul. "That is what she meant!" he
thought; "she wanted me to care for her, before I cared for her soul."
He was so simple in his acceptance of the revelation that she loved
him, that when he went to ask her to be his wife the blow of her reply
almost knocked him back into his ministerial affectations:
When John Fenn got home that evening he went into his study and shut
the door. Mary came and pounded on it, but he only said, in a muffled
"No, Mary. Not now. Go away."
He was praying for resignation to what he told himself was the will of
God. "The Lord is unwilling that my thoughts should be diverted from
His service by my own personal happiness." Then he tried to put his
thoughts on that service by deciding upon a text for his next sermon.
But the texts which suggested themselves were not steadying to his
"LOVE ONE ANOTHER." ("I certainly thought she loved me.")
"MARVEL NOT, MY BRETHREN, IF THE WORLD HATE YOU." ("I am, perhaps,
personally unattractive to her; and yet I wonder why?") He was not a
conceited man; but, like all his sex, he really did "marvel" a little
at the lack of feminine appreciation. He marveled so much that a week
later he took Mary and walked out to Mr. Roberts's house. This time
Mary, to her disgust, was left with Miss Philly's father, while her
brother and Miss Philly walked in the frosted garden. Later, when that
walk was over, and the little sister trudged along at John Fenn's side
in the direction of Perryville, she was very fretful because he would
not talk to her. He was occupied, poor boy, in trying again not to
"marvel," and to be submissive to the divine will.
After that, for several months, he refused Mary's plea to be taken to
visit Miss Philly. He had, he told himself, "submitted"; but
submission left him very melancholy and solemn, and also a little
resentful; indeed, he was so low in his mind, that once he threw out a
bitter hint to Dr. Lavendar,—who, according to his wont, put two and
"Men in our profession, sir," said John Fenn, "must not expect personal
"Well," said Dr. Lavendar, meditatively, "perhaps if we don't expect
it, the surprise of getting it makes it all the better. I expected it;
but I've exceeded my expectations!"
"But you are not married," the young man said, impulsively.
Dr. Lavendar's face changed; "I hope you will marry, Fenn," he said,
quietly. At which John Fenn said, "I am married to my profession; that
is enough for any minister."
"You'll find your profession a mighty poor housekeeper," said Dr.
It was shortly after this that Mr. Fenn and his big roan broke through
the snow-drifts and made their way to Henry Roberts's house. "I must
speak to you alone, sir," he said to the Irvingite, who, seeing him
approaching, had hastened to open the door for him and draw him in out
of the cold sunshine.
What the caller had to say was brief and to the point: Why was his
daughter so unkind? John Fenn did not feel now that the world—which
meant Philippa—hated him. He felt—he could not help feeling—that
she did not even dislike him; "on the contrary...." So what reason had
she for refusing him? But old Mr. Roberts shook his head. "A young
female does not have 'reasons,'" he said. But he was sorry for the
youth, and he roused himself from his abstraction long enough to
question his girl:
"He is a worthy young man, my Philippa. Why do you dislike him?"
"I do not dislike him."
"Then why—?" her father protested.
But Philly was silent.
Even Hannah came to the rescue:
"You'll get a crooked stick at the end, if you don't look out!"
Philly laughed; then her face fell. "I sha'n't have any stick, ever!"
And Hannah, in her concern, confided her forebodings about the stick to
"I wonder," William said to himself, uneasily, "if I was wise to tell
that child to hold her tongue? Perhaps they might have straightened it
out between 'em before this, if she had told him and been done with it.
I've a great mind to ask Dr. Lavendar."
He did ask him; at first with proper precautions not to betray a
patient's confidence, but, at a word from Dr. Lavendar, tumbling into
"You are talking about young Philippa Roberts?" Dr. Lavendar announced,
calmly, when William was half-way through his story of concealed
"How did you guess it?" the doctor said, astonished; "oh, well, yes, I
am. I guess there's no harm telling you—" "Not the slightest," said
Dr. Lavendar, "especially as I knew it already from the young man—I
mean, I knew she wouldn't have him. But I didn't know why until your
story dovetailed with his. William, the thing has festered in her!
The lancet ought to have been used the next day. I believe she'd have
been married by this time if she'd spoken out, then and there."
William King was much chagrined. "I thought, being a girl, you know,
her pride, her self-respect—"
"Oh yes; the lancet hurts," Dr. Lavendar admitted; "but it's better
than—well, I don't know the terms of your trade, Willy-but I guess you
know what I mean?"
"I guess I do," said William King, thoughtfully. "Do you suppose it's
too late now?"
"It will be more of an operation," Dr. Lavendar conceded.
"Could I tell him?" William said, after a while.
"I don't see why not," Dr. Lavendar said.
"I suppose I'd have to ask her permission?"
"Nonsense!" said Dr. Lavendar.
That talk between the physician of the soul and the physician of the
body happened on the very night when John Fenn, in his study in
Perryville, with Mary dozing on his knee, threw over, once and for all,
what he had called "submission" and made up his mind to get his girl!
The very next morning he girded himself and walked forth upon the Pike
toward Henry Roberts's house. He did not take Mary with him,—but not
because he meant to urge salvation on Miss Philly! As it happened, Dr.
King, too, set out upon the Perryville road that morning, remarking to
Jinny that if he had had his wits about him that night in November, she
would have been saved the trip on this May morning. The trip was easy
enough; William had found a medical pamphlet among his mail, and he was
reading it, with the reins hanging from the crook of his elbow. It was
owing to this method of driving that John Fenn reached the Roberts
house before Jinny passed it, so she went all the way to Perryville,
and then had to turn round to follow on his track.
"Brother went to see Miss Philly, and he wouldn't take me," Mary
complained to William King, when he drew up at the minister's door; and
the doctor was sympathetic to the extent of five cents for candy
But when Jinny reached the Roberts gate Dr. King saw John Fenn down in
the garden with Philippa. "Ho-ho!" said William. "I guess I'll wait
and see if he works out his own salvation." He hitched Jinny, and went
in to find Philippa's father, and to him he freed his mind. The two
men sat on the porch looking down over the tops of the lilac-bushes
into the garden, where they could just see the heads of the two young,
"It's nonsense, you know," said William King, "that Philly doesn't take
that boy. He's head over heels in love with her."
"She is not attached to him in any such manner," Henry Roberts said; "I
wonder a little at it, myself. He is a good youth."
The doctor looked at him wonderingly; it occurred to him that if he had
a daughter he would understand her better than Philly's father
understood her. "I think the child cares for him," he said; then,
hesitatingly, he referred to John Fenn's sickness. "I suppose you know
about it?" he said.
Philly's father bent his head; he knew, he thought, only too well; no
divine revelation in a disordered digestion!
"Don't you think," William King said, smiling, "you might try to make
her feel that she is wrong not to accept him, now that the charm has
worked, so to speak?"
"The charm?" the old man repeated, vaguely.
"I thought you understood," the doctor said, frowning; then, after a
minute's hesitation, he told him the facts.
Henry Roberts stared at him, shocked and silent; his girl, his
Philippa, to have done such a thing! "So great a sin—my little
Philly!" he said, faintly. He was pale with distress.
"My dear sir," Dr. King protested, impatiently, "don't talk about SIN
in connection with that child. I wish I'd held my tongue!"
Henry Roberts was silent. Philippa's share in John Fenn's mysterious
illness removed it still further from that revelation, waited for
during all these years with such passionate patience. He paid no
attention to William King's reassurances; and his silence was so
silencing that by and by the doctor stopped talking and looked down
into the garden again. He observed that those two heads had not drawn
any nearer together. It was not John Fenn's fault....
"There can be no good reason," he was saying to Philippa. "If it is a
bad reason, I will overcome it! Tell me why?"
She put her hand up to her lips and trembled.
"Come," he said; "it is my due, Philippa. I WILL know!"
Philippa shook her head. He took her other hand and stroked it, as one
might stroke a child's hand to comfort and encourage it.
"You must tell me, beloved," he said. Philippa looked at him with
scared eyes; then, suddenly pulling her hands from his and turning
away, she covered her face and burst into uncontrollable sobbing. He,
confounded and frightened, followed her and tried to soothe her.
"Never mind, Philly, never mind! if you don't want to tell me—"
"I do want to tell you. I will tell you! You will despise me. But I
will tell you. I DID A WICKED DEED. It was this very plant-here,
where we stand, monk's-hood! It was poison. I didn't know—oh, I
didn't know. The book said monk's-hood—it was a mistake. But I did a
wicked deed. I tried to kill you—"
She swayed as she spoke, and then seemed to sink down and down, until
she lay, a forlorn little heap, at his feet. For one dreadful moment
he thought she had lost her senses. He tried to lift her, saying, with
"Philly! We will not speak of it—"
"I murdered you," she whispered. "I put the charm into your tea, to
make you... love me. You didn't die. But it was murder. I meant—I
meant no harm—"
He understood. He lifted her up and held her in his arms. Up on the
porch William King saw that the two heads were close together!
"Why!" the young man said. "Why—but Philly! You loved me!"
"What difference does that make?" she said, heavily.
"It makes much difference to me," he answered; he put his hand on her
soft hair and tried to press her head down again on his shoulder. But
she drew away.
"But—" he began. She interrupted him.
"Listen," she said; and then, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes
breaking into a sob, she told him the story of that November night. He
could hardly hear it through.
"Love, you loved me! You will marry me."
"No; I am a wicked girl—a—a—an immodest girl—"
"My beloved, you meant no wrong—" He paused, seeing that she was not
Her father and the doctor were coming down the garden path; William
King, beaming with satisfaction at the proximity of those two heads,
had summoned Henry Roberts to "come along and give 'em your blessing!"
But as he reached them, standing now apart, the doctor's smile
faded—evidently something had happened. John Fenn, tense with
distress, called to him with frowning command: "Doctor! Tell her, for
heaven's sake, tell her that it was nothing—that charm! Tell her she
did no wrong."
"No one can do that," Henry Roberts said; "it was a sin."
"Now, look here—" Dr. King began.
"It was a sin to try to move by foolish arts the will of God."
Philippa turned to the young man, standing quivering beside her. "You
see?" she said.
"No! No, I don't see—or if I do, never mind."
Just for a moment her face cleared. (Yes, truly, he was not thinking of
her soul now!) But the gleam faded. "Oh, father, I am a great
sinner," she whispered.
"No, you're not!" William King said.
"Yes, my Philippa, you are," Henry Roberts agreed, solemnly.
The lover made a despairing gesture: "Doctor King! tell her 'no!' 'no!'"
"Yes," her father went on, "it was a sin. Therefore, Philippa, SIN NO
MORE. Did you pray that this young man's love might be given to you?"
Philippa said, in a whisper, "Yes."
"And it was given to you?"
"Philippa, was it the foolish weed that moved him to love?" She was
silent. "My child, my Philly, it was your Saviour who moved the heart
of this youth, because you asked Him. Will you do such despite to your
Lord as to reject the gift he has given in answer to your prayer?"
Philippa, with parted lips, was listening intently: "The gift He had
Dr. King dared not speak. John Fenn looked at him, and then at
Philippa, and trembled. Except for the sound of a bird stirring in its
nest overhead in the branches, a sunny stillness brooded over the
garden. Then, suddenly, the stillness was shattered by a strange
sound—a loud, cadenced chant, full of rhythmical repetitions. The
three who heard it thrilled from head to foot; Henry Roberts did not
seem to hear it: it came from his own lips.
"Oh, Philippa! Oh, Philippa! I do require—I do require that you accept
your Saviour's gift. Add not sin to sin. Oh, add not sin to sin by
making prayer of no avail! Behold, He has set before thee an open
door. Oh, let no man shut it. Oh, let no man shut it...."
The last word fell into a low, wailing note. No one spoke. The bird
rustled in the leaves above them; a butterfly wavered slowly down to
settle on a purple flag in the sunshine. Philly's eyes filled with
blessed tears. She stretched out her arms to her father and smiled.
But it was John Fenn who caught those slender, trembling arms against
his breast; and, looking over at the old man, he said, softly, "THE
VOICE OF GOD."
... "and I," said William King, telling the story that night to Dr.
Lavendar—"I just wanted to say 'the voice of COMMON SENSE!'"
"My dear William," said the old man, gently, "the most beautiful thing
in the world is the knowledge that comes to you, when you get to be as
old as I am, that they are the same thing."